What is dermatitis?
Dermatitis is the name given to a group of conditions that affect the skin. The word dermatitis (sometimes misspelled as dermatitus) comes from the Greek language and breaks down as derma “skin” + -itis “inflammation”.
Four of the main types of dermatitis are:
• Atopic dermatitis
• Contact dermatitis
• Dermatitis eczema
• Seborrheic dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is a common skin complaint that affects both men and women. It may be aggravated by low humidity and other environmental factors. Living in an urban area can increase your risk of contracting this condition.
Contact dermatitis is caused by any substance or allergen that irritates the skin on contact.
Dermatitis eczema is otherwise known as eczema. Read our article on eczema skin allergies for more information.
Seborrheic dermatitis generally affects the skin of the scalp, face and trunk and is more common in men. It is thought to be a fungal infection.
Symptoms of dermatitis differ depending on the type of dermatitis you have, although most dermatitis conditions have in common inflammation, redness and itching of the skin.
Some forms of dermatitis appear as a flat rash, a bumpy rash characterizes others. Blisters and lesions may also be a problem.
There are a number of factors that contribute to dermatitis. Genetics play a part so if you have a close family member with one of these conditions you may also be susceptible. Allergies and skin irritants are also known to cause dermatitis.
Cleaning products such as soap, detergents and laundry detergents can be responsible for the condition, as can other beauty products, especially those that contain fragrance. Jewelry, metals and rubber may also aggravate dermatitis.
Treatments for dermatitis include steroid creams and medications, antihistamines and other nonsteroidal medications depending on the nature of your condition. These medications will need to be prescribed by your doctor.
If you are prone to sensitive skin conditions you will need to choose your beauty products carefully. Avoiding products that contain alcohol and perfumes will help. You can also:
• Do a patch test. Try out any potential new products on the inside of your lower arm by dotting a small amount of product onto the skin. Wait 24-48 hours to see if there is any reaction.
• Spring Clean. Make sure you don’t hold on to your beauty products for too long. If stored well most products have a good shelf life (12-36 months) however once you have opened the product several times the ingredients used to control the growth of bacteria will lose efficiency.
• Make a change. Even your old favorites can eventually let you down. After long-term use it is possible that you may become allergic to a much-loved product. Sad as this is it’s time to move on!
• Choose wisely. Check the packaging carefully to see if the product contains any ingredients you know for certain irritate your skin. The most expensive creams that are packed full of ingredients aren’t always the best. A good brand name doesn’t necessarily mean that the product won’t irritate your skin. If you have sensitive skin you may be better off using products with a simpler and shorter list of ingredients. Less can be more.